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Newly released records in Kendhammer death show state's evidence against husband

From the From Tribune files: Coverage of Kendhammer homicide case series
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Todd Kendhammer’s arrest came 81 days after he told authorities an airborne pipe pierced his car's windshield and struck his wife of 25 years.

“What?” he asked while being handcuffed outside the Onalaska Menards. “Oh, my God. Oh, my God.”

He was shaking in the back of a squad car, where he repeated, “Oh, my God. Oh, my God,” according to newly released case records.

Interviews, crime lab reports, photographs and 911 tapes released through state open-records laws highlight discrepancies in Kendhammer’s account of the events that led to his wife’s death, including 20 minutes during which the two were alone just before he reported she had been injured in a freak traffic accident.

Investigators concluded the crash never happened.

Kendhammer, 46, has stood mute to first-degree intentional homicide in his wife Barbara’s Sept. 17 death. He is under house arrest with GPS monitoring as conditions of his $250,000 cash bond while awaiting trial. He returns to La Crosse County Circuit Court on Feb. 2 for a status conference.

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Todd Kendhammer

Todd Kendhammer of West Salem at his preliminary hearing in La Crosse County Circuit Court. Kendhammer is charged with first-degree intentional homicide in the death of his wife, Barbara.

His Madison attorneys have refused to respond to repeated requests for comment.

According to the records:

Sept. 16

Kendhammer told authorities the couple left their home at N6617 E. Scotch Coulee Road in West Salem between 7:30 and 7:45 a.m. Sept. 16 for Holmen, where he planned to pick up a truck to replace its windshield.

GPS information retrieved from Google show the couple’s cellphones at a neighbor’s house from 7:30 to 7:50 a.m., according to a La Crosse County Sheriff's Department report. The neighbor, who lives in Seattle, said Kendhammer cared for the 80-acre property that he planned to purchase in September.

Barbara was scheduled to work at 8 a.m. at West Salem Middle School — the opposite direction from Holmen. The owner of the truck said he did not arrange for Kendhammer to repair the damaged windshield, according to a sheriff's department report.

A car matching the couple’s Toyota Camry was captured on surveillance video at 7:57 a.m. traveling north on Hwy. M about one mile south of Bergum Coulee Road in the town of Hamilton.

In his initial statement, Kendhammer said they were driving north on a straight and flat stretch of the highway just south of Bergum Coulee Road when a 53-inch pipe fell from an oncoming flatbed truck, bounced off the pavement and passed through the passenger side of the windshield, hitting his 46-year-old wife, according to the criminal complaint.

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Incident scene

Authorities found Todd and Barbara Kendhammer’s car half in the ditch on Bergum Coulee Road after he called 911 at 8:06 a.m. Sept. 16.

En route to the hospital with an investigator, he said the pipe that fell from the oncoming truck did not hit the pavement before breaking through the windshield, according to the complaint.

Kendhammer said he punched the windshield trying to block the pipe, then tried to remove the 10-pound galvanized pipe from his flailing wife while turning onto Bergum Coulee Road, where he accidentally put the car in reverse and rolled backward into a grassy embankment.

He said he then got out of the car and removed the pipe from the windshield, pulled Barbara from the passenger seat and tried CPR for three to five minutes before calling 911 at 8:06 a.m., according to the complaint.

Audio: Todd Kendhammer's 911 call

A passerby told investigators he saw the Camry half in the ditch, its windshield intact, the passenger door open and no one around the car, according to a sheriff's department report.

On the phone with 911 dispatchers, Kendhammer was frantic and at times inaudible. He reported blood coming from his wife’s nose and mouth and pleaded for paramedics to rush as he said he continued efforts to save her life.

“A pipe or something came through the windshield,” he told dispatchers. “It got her and she’s hit in the head and the throat I think.”

Minutes later, “You’re going to be OK, Barb,” he said on the recording.

Barbara was unresponsive when medical help arrived. She never regained consciousness and was declared brain dead at 5:02 p.m. the next day. 

The first paramedic at the scene found Kendhammer kneeling at his wife’s feet. Her head was toward the road and her blood was on the rear passenger tire. Emergency responders did not find glass shards on Barbara, according to a sheriff's department report.

Authorities found the pipe in weeds behind the passenger side of the car, where Kendhammer said he threw it before trying to save his wife, according to a sheriff's department report. Pressed between the trunk lid and the rubber seal they found a blade of grass.

“It appeared as if the trunk had been opened at the scene,” reports stated.

Kendhammer was unsteady on his feet and concerned about his wife. He had injures to his knuckles and scratches on his neck and chest. He blamed his injuries on working with glass, according to a sheriff's department report.

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Todd Kendhammer's hands

Todd Kendhammer's hands photographed soon after the crash.

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Todd Kendhammer's neck

Scratches on Todd Kendhammer's neck photographed after the incident.

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Todd Kendhammer's chest

Scratches on Todd Kendhammer's chest photographed soon after the incident.

The same video that showed a vehicle matching the Kendhammers' car on Hwy. M did not show a flatbed truck traveling south around the time of the incident, according to a sheriff's department report.

Authorities later returned to the site to reconstruct the crash as described by Kendhammer, dropping an identical pipe from a truck traveling at 40 and 50 mph in nine scenarios.

According to the Wisconsin State Patrol, broken glass found in the rear part of the Camry’s gear shift housing would only land in that spot if the windshield was damaged while the car was in park.

The autopsy

Barbara suffered extensive blunt impact injuries to her head and neck inconsistent with her husband’s account, Dane County Deputy Medical Examiner Kathleen McCubbin wrote in the autopsy report.

She had three bone-deep cuts to the back of her head, a fracture to the back of her skull, a broken nose, bruises and bleeding on the interior of her lips and bruises on her biceps.

Barbara also had a fractured bone and muscle hemorrhaging in her neck consistent with strangulation, according to the autopsy report. She had possible fingernail scratches on her neck and two torn fingernails.

It is 46 quadrillion times more likely that DNA recovered from one of Barbara’s fingernail clippings is a mixture of Barbara and her husband than Barbara and a random person, according to the State Crime Laboratory.

‘Very forceful that the casket would not be opened’

Kendhammer was jittery and emotional while making arrangements with the couple’s grown children at Jandt-Fredrickson Funeral Homes. He stated he wanted his wife cremated, not buried as he had said during an initial phone call, the funeral director told investigators.

He then was adamant his wife’s casket remain sealed.

“Todd stated that no one will see her from this point forward and he was very forceful that the casket would not be opened and that no one would ever see her after they left the funeral home,” the funeral director told investigators, according to a report.

The couple’s family and friends did not identify problems in their marriage or mention a history of domestic abuse during interviews with investigators, but several of Kendhammer’s former colleagues described him as “snake in the grass” and a “chauvinist pig from hell” capable of violence, according to sheriff's department reports.

Kendhammer was scheduled to work at 6:30 p.m. the day of the incident and the next three nights at Crown Cork and Seal Co. in La Crosse, although the couple was planning their annual camping trip during that time period.

One of his colleagues told investigators he believed the couple’s daughter and son-in-law were replacing plumbing pipes during a kitchen remodel, according to a sheriff's department report.

Crime lab findings

Evidence recovered from the car indicate Barbara was assaulted and the windshield smashed when she was not in the car, prosecutors said in court.

Bloodstains around the passenger seat and on the inside of the windshield indicate Barbara was inside the car when “force was applied,” according to a crime lab report. The patterns are “consistent with a beating.”

Blood drip and flow patterns revealed Barbara was bleeding for a “period of time” in the passenger seat and that her body was at one time over the center console and passenger-side floor, according to the crime lab.

A crime lab analyst determined the pipe hit the passenger side of the windshield at least once before it broke through.

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The windshield

Authorities determined the pipe struck the windshield at least once before breaking through.

The spread of glass particles on the passenger seat indicated it was empty when the pipe penetrated the windshield. The analyst also concluded the passenger door was likely open, because there were no glass pieces in the door pocket.

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Passenger seat

Shattered glass particles spread across the passenger seat led authorities to conclude that the seat was empty when the pipe broke through the windshield.

The analyst found sand and an orange soil-like material on one end of the 53-inch galvanized steel pipe. There was no blood on the pipe, according to the crime lab.

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The pipe

The 53-inch, 10-pound galvanized steel pipe that broke through the windshield of the Kendhammers’ car.

The analyst also found what appears to be the same material inside the trunk and on a rolled pad and cloth bag on the floor of the trunk.

The pipe and items from the trunk will be analyzed at an FBI lab, according to the crime lab report.

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(76) comments

Clarification

I wonder if all you would be so conerned if the victim was not white?

RedHawk

He is afforded his day in court. Conversely, I view a murderer as a murderer regardless of color.

DMoney

Really? You need to take this there? That's like the definition of a race-baiter.

RedHawk

He will likely plead guilty to 2nd degree homicide with a chance at parole.

YellowBee

I hope his kids don't go visit him at the "Big House" either...after what he did to their mom he doesn't deserve their attention!! I can't believe some people still think he is innocent. What the heck are they smoking...I want some!!!

Get real

for the record, "innocent until proven guilty" does not mean you suspend all reasonable thought and magically think everyone is innocent despite what your eyes are telling you. it means you give the defendant the benefit of the doubt and all the steps of due process to ensure no stone is left unturned and there isn't a rubber stamp on every conviction... it's a legal way to give people their rights, it doesn't require the public to check their smarts at the door and believe someone didn't do it until a jury or judge says so

letsgetreallax

Out on bond. Read the tea leaves Todd. Rest of your life in prison, or do you do to yourself what you did to your wife??

TotemPole

meow! prrrrrrr

DMoney

The only part of the facts that could be thrown out (and probably shouldn't have been included as it degrades the legitimacy of the investigators) is the opinion of some of his coworkers. Anyone who makes an effort in life is bound to have some enemies or at least people who have negative things to say about you. Everything else is hard to ignore. It appears he did a terrible job at covering up the murder. Leads me to believe it wasn't premeditated. Must have been conjured up on the fly. Or he's just really stupid. Either way, very curious to see how the defense will try to create doubt. I have none, based on the facts.

laxlax

Baffled by the amount of people who will look at the evidence and still insist that he is the sweetest, most caring and loving person and would never hurt anyone!!

RedHawk

This case will be given a change of venue. I have no dog in this fight but based on what I have read it would appear that this man will be found guilty. The evidence is all circumstantial but sometimes that is all you have. The prosecution will present a scenario that will be viewed as being more likely to have been what actually occurred. The defense merely has to inject reasonable doubt. Court rooms are not about the truth, it is about what you can prove. His story seems far fetched.

awol2009

There is more evidence to convict this guy than they had to convict Eric Koula a few years ago. Koula is doing life in prison. A lot of people thought Koula was such a nice, upstanding guy too. Guess he had many people fooled too like Todd Kendhammer. West Salem murderers are really putting them on the map! People are not always who they pretend to be. Barb Kendhammer deserves justice. What is really bizarre - after rereading her obituary - she was an organ donor. It's kind of bittersweet as a tribute to what a generous person she was, recipients were saved by a victim of murder. That's really twisted, tragic heroism. Even with a murderous death, her goodness prevailed;trumped the evil in her murderous husband. Almost Shakespearean!

johnnybragatti

Killers remorse , running rampant.
Don"t worry there"ll be a nice girl ,who wants to marry him.
In prison.

crank

I wonder about the justification for publishing these details in the newspaper. The man will be tried for murder in court where the evidence will be presented. Perhaps it would be more appropriate to publish these findings then? Certainly, this article does nothing but allow people to read a few details and decide he's guilty or innocent before all the facts are presented. Reading below reveals the usual 'know-it-alls' who surface because they just know he's guilty of just know he isn't. Generally, these 'know-it-alls' tend to discover later that they didn't actually know it all. There is no benefit to arguing the case here.

One thing is certain, the investigators are being quite thorough and will present a compelling case.

Another certainty... "If it bleeds, it leads."

Agree2Disagree

I bet he'll do an Alford Plea. Plead guilty due to the amount of evidence but not actually admit guilt.

snow_informer

Clarification: exactly! These supporters here are in such denial. The Tribune didn't make up this evidence. This is the evidence, and it doesn't lie!

thetruthhurts2

As a friend of the victims's family, I would like it to be known that there are very few members of Barb's family that are behind him. Evidence doesn't lie, and he should admit to his guilt so that her family may heal and move on from this terrible tragedy. Please Todd, at the very least, do that for them.

Kburrows

You are no friend of either family. This isn't a case of Dr. Heckyl and Mr Hyde. He's no more a murderer than you.

Clarification

Yep. And some people send fan letters to Charles Manson.

k

All that evidence, yet you choose to ignore it!

BichonFrise

I hope This scumbag spends the rest of his miserable life in prison without parole!! I don't know this family however it sounds like they had many skeletons in their closet. Prayers to her kids and friends!!

butler444

i hope bubba reads the paper ...nuf said.

Geno1972

If only she would of married me,She'd be sippin margaritas on the beach and being treated like the queen she is

bartleybigears

There have been several posts from people saying how they know Todd and he would not do those things. Like the old saying goes, you never truly know a person or know what's inside of them.

Cinnamon

Honor, I think you should give a lot of consideration to justbnice's post on January 6th.

Maerzie

Sounds like a great investigation effort by all involved. Too bad these same people weren't around during the unsolved Evelyn Hartley disappearance. The flimsy attempt to try to pin the Hartley disappearance on Ed Gien, just made the discovery efforts sound even more lame, as him M.O. was so absolutely different. How sad that case never got solved, and a murderer got away Scott Free. Maybe some Cold Case genius will resurrect it. I was babysitting that same night, so the case remains seared in my memory.

Honor

Sad and broken hearted for all involved....Todd is not a snake in the grass or Chauvinistic pig....He and his family are good, hard working, honest, loyal, and respectful of others.....This whole tragic awful nightmare is beyond our belief that the Todd we know and love is capable of hurting anyone...Especially his wife....Yes the tribune is making him guilty by tabloid reporting.....Yes it looks bad, but I will stand with Todd and his family because there is a whole other side to this story.....That side will come out in the trial and I pray for all involved.....Before any of you condemn this man maybe you should watch making of a murderer....Mistakes are made and sometimes facts are twisted to sell more papers or to get higher news ratings.....Cops do make mistakes and so do doctors....Please use common sense people....The family and friends are going through hell over this.....Watch some ID discovery and see how mistakes can be made.....Please stop hurting this family.....I will pray for all you negative know it all's that this never happens to you.....Love you Todd and Kendhammer family stay strong and your all in my prayers.....

bartleybigears

Prepare yourself to be visiting Todd in prison. He is going away for a long time when this evidence gets presented in court. I just feel awful for their children.

chucker

NO BLOOD on the PIPE that hit her in face & neck ??? Riddle me that Honor ??

Oh I Get It

I couldn't agree more! Praying for him and his Family

Oh I Get It

We're Praying EVERY day...

Oh I Get It

Amen...

DMoney

Are you going to sing the same tune when he's convicted of murder? Or will that not matter?

BichonFrise

Its already happened to my family..and yes it is hard to watch. It's really hard watching your loved one put in cuffs in the court room and marched off to prison. You don't get to hug them, you can't say anything to them., because their are a ward of the state immediately. So yes I know exactly what they are going through and believe me the truth hurts to hear or read. Because this paper did the same thing with our loved one!!!! Guilty from day one.

bartleybigears

If this is the evidence against him he better prepare himself to be in prison for a long time. The evidence is overwhelming.

DMoney

I'll bet he never makes it to trial.

awol2009

lucky7s- Facts are facts. You must be delusional if you think any jury would be tainted by facts. Photos and facts don't lie. Evidently, Todd Kendhammer did lie and attempt to deceive. Only this time, he won't get away with it. The defense team really has their work cut out for them. The Tribune didn't just make this stuff up, you fool.

Kburrows

You should stay AWOL. I have scratches and cuts on my hands. I must be an abusive man and killer. You know nothing!!!

awol2009

Kburrows, geeze man, get a grip. I can read and, through deductive reasoning, ascertain the guy killed his wife and tried to cover it up with his fake, staged accident story. Did you read the facts stated? The coroner report makes it quite clear she had deep cuts and a skull fracture on the back of her head, neck and throat injuries consistent with strangulation, etc. Evidently, you know nothing or you're too emotionally involved to rationalize compelling evidence of murder. This is more than scratches and cuts on his hands. You really must need professional help, Kburrows......or learn to read and comprehend. SMH.......

Kburrows

Have you seen any positive reports on this case????? That's because the pd is giving them. If you were a po involved with all of these do called suicides and all the other negative of actions involved with the pd wouldn't you want some positive media for you? They don't post that any other incident could have caused some of these issues. He's not the killer being portrayed by your beloved Tribune an pd. And this person who is a so called friend of the family, you should keep your mouth closed. That's a true friend of the family. You are causing more pain and hurt for their children than they deserve. Where will you be if this turns out to be what it is. NOT A FRIEND FOR SURE. Think on that.

DMoney

He had fresh, hours old cuts on his KNUCKLES and fresh hours old scrapes on his body. She had broken fingernails, his DNA under them (or 56 billion times more likely than hers alone) and injuries related to being physically attacked. I can understand people defending him if these details were inconclusive. But the long list of facts would almost make his claim to innocence laughable, if the situation weren't so tragic. You folks defending him are casting your lot with a murderer.

k

Agree

RedHawk

Kburrows save your breath praying will not help him. I am a non believer and I am not getting wrapped up in emotion. The woman had 3 cuts on the back of her head, a broken nose, laceration on lip, and a broken bone in her neck consistent with strangulation. How does all of that happen with a pipe coming through the window? It flies around multiple times without hitting him, a 4 1/2 foot pipe? He killed her.

k

Have what looks like fingernail scratchs on your chest too??

Clarification

Got cats??

lucky7s

Thanks Tribune, for joining the defense team! You've just tainted the jury pool of your 30,000 plus subscribers. Think of the money the taxpayers will save when all trials are in your court of public opinion.

Agree2Disagree

Oh, please! Tribune is printing THE NEWS.... How are they doing anything but their job?? Also, I find it quite insulting that you would think because I or most other commenters read the news, that somehow we couldn't perform our civic duties in a court of law fair and justly! If I were on that jury, no matter what I've previously seen or read, I'm sure as hell not going to send a man away for the rest of his life if I have one shred of doubt! Sheeesh!!!

chucker

Give her credit for trying to fight he off , hope he gets a good beating in prison from Bubba ! and hope his kids disown him !!

Kburrows

Well, you're right the Tribune only posts what's given to them. To the rest of you haters, afraid to put your name out there? Don't judge by what you THINK. It's hard enough on both families. Todd is a hard working, family loving man. I pray for him and the entire family, including Barb. I have faith in the truth. It will come out.

DMoney

Not judging based on what I think. Judging based on the overwhelming evidence that he committed cold blooded murder. How can you read these facts and still have a shred of doubt? I knew neither of them, yet I feel horrible for her and am chilled to the core by his picture.

Oh I Get It

The truth WILL come out!

k

It will be harder on Barbs family if justice isnt served.

letsgetreallax

Laxlax, rancherort, oigetit, Grampy, awol2009, tbeck. And all other defenders of Todd Killhammer; where are you now??????

Oh I Get It

I'm right here and I'll support him and his Family through all of this!

laxlax

I have never defended him. Maybe I have said innocent until proven guilty but that isn't defending him, that is being humane.

letsgetreallax

I bet her family feels just sick now for standing by him in the beginning. What a piece of work he is. And you hear crickets from all his defenders now????

letsgetreallax

It's interesting that all the Todd defenders that were so quick to defend him are now silent. Where are you all??

FMC651

Seriously they are just now seeing another person for the first time. No blood on the pipe. Scratches on his body, his beat up hands. Information on her injuries like a split lip and broken nose. All point to him. They shouldn't be defending him here now.

theluckiest

Barb is missed every day. She was a wonderful person, sweet and kind, never a bad word about anyone. I cannot imagine someone wanting to hurt her. I hope that the truth about what happened to her comes out and justice is served. It won't bring her back, but maybe it will bring peace to those of us who love and miss her. She deserves at least that much. You will never, ever be forgotten, Barb.

Agree2Disagree

I didn't know her but she sounds like she was a wonderful person, and I hope for those who love her that the truth does come out. Whatever that truth is, I hope her loved ones can accept it and find the peace they deserve, even if it's not what they wanted to believe.

snow_informer

If people still defend this monster, then they need some serious help or education on domestic violence. May this poor woman's soul rest in peace, and I am saddened she didn't get away from him before it was too late. She had so much life left to live. Those poor kids!

awol2009

Well, it must be creepy working around this guy now that he's out on bond ( assuming he still has his job after being jailed for a bit).

Agree2Disagree

Why on earth would he be found kneeling at her feet when paramedics arrived? If it were my loved one, CPR would not have stopped and they'd most likely have to pry me off!

FMC651

Pretty creepy picture with his wife. I wish they would have shown his mugshot again. He looked guilty in it. Add to it the 2 pictures of him with scratches on his neck and stomach, chest. It sure appears that he did it.

awol2009

This guy must be an extremely sick narcissistic murderer. Living in such denial like this, he must have gotten away with a lot of things in life, never held accountable. In previous articles about this, one commentator was worried Todd might kill himself if he was released on bond. That's highly unlikely as most narcissistic personality types don't resort to suicide. They are conniving, manipulative liars that will not take responsibility, despite irrefutable truth or evidence to the contrary. How terribly sad for his wife, kids, and their entire family. I hope justice is served for Barb. I don't see this guy confessing. A narcissist is only capable of self- preservation, while conning people into believing they're "great, nice people".

katydid

justbnice. . Those were exactly my thoughts.

justbnice

If these are the facts and so many defend him, she must have felt SO alone and trapped. God rest her soul.

telephoneman

It really doesn't matter if he was the greatest guy in earth (although there are many that may dispute this.). The question is did he kill his wife? Is this what the evidence points to? My heart goes out to the children who lost a mother and will likely lose their father to the legal system. I pray for some type of comfort for them and that they somehow would be able to achieve some type of closure. Mr. Kendhammer must be able to see the definitive evidence against him and seriously consider any plea offered to him so as not put the children and other family through any more pain.

butler444

He killed his wife plain and simple.

Seth Poole

Left handed I presume?

TotemPole

Everyone has people that don't like them. I guarantee you Todd had more friends than enemies. Todd was an awesome co-worker. He's very social, outgoing, fun to talk to. Heck every week he'd bring in some kind of food or treat for everyone. He replaced a windshield on my car once. Something doesn't add up, but he sure seemed like a good person to me. Regardless of how the Tribune makes him out to be.

justbnice

The Tribune is only stating what has been given to them. This is not an opinion. This is what was presented.

k

Jeffrey dahmer seemed like a nice guy too,Ted Bundy,oh,i know hes not a serial killer,but no one know what goes on behind closed doors of homes with spousal abuse. Nice to everyone but the one abused.

k

Omg. Well at first i believed him,i dont now. Looks like fingernail scratchs on his chest. His poor wife!

Geno1972

So check it out all of you,The lacrosse DA will indeed prosecute..This is a slam dunk case ..Tim Gruenke and his team are going to slaughter Todd and rightfully so..She was so beautiful,Have a feeling she was going to leave him after 25 yrs and he wasn't accepting that.I have followed the case from day 1 and nothing he has said makes any sense, A jury will feel the same way and convict him..He's enjoying house arrest and GPS monitoring but his freedom will soon be taken for good..To top it off he pussed off a bunch of lunch ladies that you know talk and talk at work...I'm sure they know more about the relationship than anyone..Goodbye Todd and remember an eye for an eye

Geno1972

Pray for the survivors of this tragic event..If any of us could travel back to that beautiful Sep fall morning and prevent this ..We would in a heartbeat, You could of though Todd and now you'll pay the ultimate price.God be with all the people you are hurting and remember Barbs smile cause that's what she would want..Till we meet again

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